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Published:August 21st, 2009 20:30 EST
Memphis Tigers still growling over NCAA's arbitration to rescind team's Final Four ride

Memphis Tigers still growling over NCAA's arbitration to rescind team's Final Four ride

By Joey Liam

The Memphis Tigers men`s basketball team relished a very successful 2007-2008 season, in which the team reached the NCAA Final Four; but everything (all revenues and many accolades) crumbled after the NCAA determined that the Tigers` star player, Derrick Rose, was ineligible to play for Memphis due to fraudulent SAT scores.
 
Hold it, didn`t NCAA approve and certify Rose`s transcript prior to his inclusion to the powerhouse Memphis Tigers? This reality must not be ignored: it is also the duty and responsibility of the NCAA to ensure that all cagers wanting to participate in its league are screened and investigated thoroughly and accurately before they are authorized to strut their skills in the hard court. Rules are created for proper implementation--that`s what the NCAA seems to have forgotten.

After achieving a noteworthy season, the University of Memphis` cogent basketball team received a slamming from the NCAA: stripping the club of its record of 38 wins, moreover forcing the Tigers to abdicate their trip to the 2008 championship game. This after the NCAA`s determination of the Tigers` star player`s, Derrick Rose, ineligibility to play for UM because he has failed to secure a qualifying score on ACT not only once, but thrice.
 
The Educational Testing Services invalidated the SAT scores of Rose, and according to the NCAA, such invalidation put a "strict liability" situation which required the forfeiture of Rose`s 2007-2008 game season. Paul Dee, the former athletic director at the University of Miami who chaired the Committee on Infractions explained via teleconference, "...it was clear that from the time that the testing service canceled the test score, that meant the student-athlete had been ineligible from the very beginning and didn`t require further inquiry or finding..."

The UM`s women`s golf program has also been castigated due to the extra benefits given to the players; resulting in cancellation of two scholarships and the firing of coach Jenny Bruun.The NCAA furthermore issued a three-year probation period to UM`s athletic department to ensure its full compliance of all the NCAA recruiting decorum for all sports programs, not just golf and basketball. An annual report showing the progression of its athletic programs has been asked from the said department, exhibiting complete conformity with the NCAA set standards.

John Calipari, the celebrated coach of the UM Tigers, is unable to evade the probing eye of the NCAA as well. Being recognized as winningest all-time coach, Calipari received $160,000 bonus for establishing an 81% winning record, plus $200,000 for leading the Memphis Tigers to the Final Four in 2007-2008 season. Should the Memphis` appeal fail, all of Calipari`s earnings will be recouped and his 32 wins over another legendary UM coach Larry Flinch, who tallied 220 victories during his coaching years at the University, will be disestablished. "I`m very disappointed and disheartened by the NCAA`s findings," declared Calipari on his web site. He added, "I fully support the University of Memphis` appeal, and until that process is carried through its completion, I will have no further comments on the matter."

The university legal counsel Sheri Lipman stated, "I am not familiar with the term `strict liability` ever used in another NCAA opinion. That`s a new standard to use in this situation, and we believe it should not be used in this situation." UM President Shirley Raines also repudiated the NCAA`s decision by saying, "While we respect the NCAA process, we disagree with the decision to invalidate the `07-`08 men`s basketball season." Derrick Rose to boot insisted that he "complied with everything that was asked of him...and was ultimately cleared to play in the entire 2007-2008 season by the NCAA clearinghouse and the university."

Despite the controversies, and punishment imposed on UM athletic programs, the new Tigers` basketball coach Josh Pastner remains hopeful and assured his new recruits that they would not suffer penalties. He proclaimed to his squad, "We know we`re one of the elite programs in America and nothing has changed on that." 

The NCAA, however, stands firm on their decision to censure the UM for non-compliance and for failure to monitor its student-athlete`s academic qualifications. Hold it again, which clearinghouse approved the eligibility of Derrick Rose, along with the University of Memphis` consent? Ah, thanks for remembering.
 
One final note: the NCAA needs to review its own protocols so that when it imposes penalties and deprives any university of its accomplishments, those things will not come back to haunt the association. And yes, the Memphis Tigers are still growling while contemplating on another resurgence to glory.